Gene Wilder has died, aged 83, in Stamford, Connecticut due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Born as Jerome Silberman in 1933, as a child he would entertain his sick mother hoping that laughter would prevent her from dying. After meeting Mel Brooks while in a Broadway production of Mother Courage and her Children, they began to collaborate which led to some of the best films of Wilder’s career. The Producers got an Oscar nomination, and Young Frankenstein, co-written by Wilder, established them as the best comedy duo in the business.
Over 40 years after starring in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, he still received an estimated five letters a day asking for him to sign his photograph. The seventies saw some of his most iconic performances – as the eponymous Willy Wonka, and the film that made him the most sought-after actor in Hollywood as Dave Lyons in See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
Despite him not seeing the humour in himself that others see, he will be remembered as one of the funniest actors from Hollywood. Wilder was once quoted as saying: “When people see me in a movie, and if it’s funny, they stop and say things to be about ‘how funny you are’. I don’t think I’m that funny. I think I can be, in the movies.” No one else would doubt if he was funny or not; the answer is a firm yes.
He will be sorely missed. Watch Wilder as Willy Wonka below: